In The Generals we meet great leaders and suspect ones, generals who rose to the occasion and those who failed themselves and their soldiers. Marshall and Eisenhower cast long shadows over this story, as does the less familiar Marine General O. P. Smith, whose fighting retreat from the Chinese onslaught into Korea in the winter of 1950 snatched a kind of victory from the jaws of annihilation.
But Korea also showed the first signs of an army leadership culture that neither punished mediocrity nor particularly rewarded daring. In the Vietnam War, the problem grew worse until, finally, American military leadership bottomed out. The My Lai massacre, Ricks shows us, is the emblematic event of this dark chapter of our history. In the wake of Vietnam a battle for the soul of the U.S. Army was waged with impressive success. It became a transformed institution, reinvigorated from the bottom up. But if the body was highly toned, its head still suffered from familiar problems, resulting in tactically savvy but strategically obtuse leadership that would win battles but end wars badly from the first Iraq War of 1990 through to the present.
Ricks has made a close study of America’s military leaders for three decades, and in his hands this story resounds with larger meaning: about the transmission of values, about strategic thinking, and about the difference between an organization that learns and one that fails.
About Thomas E. RicksSee more books from this Author
Informed readers, especially military buffs, will appreciate this provocative, blistering critique of a system where accountability appears to have gone missing... this book is bound to cause heartburn in the Pentagon.Read Full Review of The Generals: American Milita... | See more reviews from Kirkus
...Ricks presents an incisive, hard-hitting corrective to unthinking veneration of American military prowess.Read Full Review of The Generals: American Milita... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly
Ultimately, Mr. Ricks's faith in the power of sacking generals en masse is unconvincing, though it makes for a highly entertaining book—so long as you're not a general.Read Full Review of The Generals: American Milita... | See more reviews from WSJ online
Mr. Ricks never proves whether or not relieving generals in war works; the book only assumes that it does.Read Full Review of The Generals: American Milita... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books
His conclusions are stark, fact-based and strongly argued...Read Full Review of The Generals: American Milita... | See more reviews from LA Times
This book will no doubt satisfy war-history buffs who want greater insight into what distinguishes great commanders from mediocre ones.Read Full Review of The Generals: American Milita...
Ricks' proposals for reforming leadership are less important than his demonstration that the problem's roots lie in bureaucratization. Accountability is bureaucratization's nemesis in any system. The challenge lies in implementing it.Read Full Review of The Generals: American Milita...
...does argue that we should shoulder our share and regenerate a mastery of strategic leadership...For this fact alone, The Generals is strongly recommended reading for all students of the art of war.Read Full Review of The Generals: American Milita...
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